Monday 13 February 2012

Guest Post - Eowyn Ivey - Alaska and Inspiration - UK Giveaway

I  now have a gorgeous post from Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child, telling us why she chose Alaska as the location for her book. 

I was born in Colorado, and when I was four years old my parents announced that we were moving to Alaska. I didn’t want to go. I was very young, so I have only the vaguest memories of gathering my teddy bear, baseball and favorite books, and crying. A family friend, whose face I no longer remember, tried to comfort me and told me Alaska was a land of wild strawberries and black bears. You’ll love it there, the person told me.

From then on in my memory, there is only Alaska. It is a part of who I am. Trout fishing with my dad in a tippy canoe. Feeding a bottle of milk to an orphan moose calf. Watching the National Guard track vehicles tunnel through 20-foot snow drifts to bring us safely to town during a storm. Eating black bear meat, barbecued over an open fire in our neighbor’s yard. Aurora borealis and fireweed blossoms, silver salmon, blueberries, caribou on the tundra. Spruce kindling and February snowstorms. Dark winter days and summer’s midnight sun.

When someone asks why I set The Snow Child in Alaska, the question feels upside down. Alaska is the only given. All of my short stories, my essays, and my novel aren’t just set in this place – the landscape is a force that propels my plots and shapes my characters.

So rather than seeking a setting for my fiction, I was always searching for a story that could take place in Alaska. I found it in Snegurochka. I was shelving books at Fireside Books where I work when I came across a simple children’s illustrated version of the Russian tale. A man and a woman, aging and sad, build a little girl out of snow and she comes to life. I felt a shock of recognition. This was it.

Spruce forest. Frost on the window. Fox tracks in the snow. A terrible, fearsome kind of beauty.

I had at last found a path into the novel I wanted to tell, a magical story set in Alaska.

I was recently asked what my favorite scenes are in The Snow Child. As I began to list them to myself, I realized they were all set in the wilderness – Jack’s moose hunting, Mabel’s journey into the mountains with Faina. Each of these moments is inspired by my own life here. My husband and I hunt moose each fall, and the meat provides our dinners for the year. In the winter, I love to hike through the snowy woods, looking for tracks and watching animals come and go. In a way, my novel is a sort of love poem to Alaska.

I can’t imagine writing about anywhere else. It is too much a part of me. And there is so much about it I still don’t understand.

One of my favorite Alaska writers is the poet and essayist John Haines, who died last year at the age of 86.

“I am living out a dream in these woods,” he wrote. “Old dreams of the Far North, old stories read and absorbed: of snow and dogs, of moose and lynx … Having come, I will have to stay, there’s no way back.” 

I am now lost in the dreaminess of Alaska. Thank you  Eowyn for such a beautiful post.
To find out more about Eowyn Ivey:

Twitter: @EowynIvey
How would you like to win a copy of The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey? 
If you would like to enter all you have to do is leave a comment for  Eowyn in the comments with your email address too, in order for me to contact you if you win. 


  1. What a lovely post, Eowyn's love for Alaska is seeping through the web and will affect all of us who reads the post. The quote at the end of the post was wonderful as well!

  2. Such a beautiful and interesting post! I love that quote from John Haines.

  3. I find it hard to resist any book where the environment is a character in its own right. Eowyn is most persuasive about her adopted homeland.
    Thanks for the post and maybe the chance to win.

    1. Good luck. Eowyn definitely makes you want to read visit Alaska.

  4. What a lovely post. I would love to see the northern lights - it is on my bucket list

  5. Its all too easy to easy to get weighed down in the desire for bigger and better ( a bigger house, a newer car, to drop five pounds)that we lose sight of what truely important in life and how privileged our lives are.
    It's so refreshing to come across someone who is so passionate about her homeland and fully embraces the life style that home affords her.
    A beautiful post.
    I look forward to stepping out of my own life experience(I live in suburban uk)and soaking up a bit more of Alaska through Eowyn's words.

    1. Oh Caroline what a lovely reply. I couldn't have put it better.

  6. Ooh, this is a beautiful post, Eowyn! I didn't really know much about your story before, but now I find myself really wanting to find out more about Alaska - there is something about places that can seem a bit desolate, but on closer inspection are beautiful & amazing, that just appeals to me.



  7. What a fabulous post, it looks so beautiful! I'd love to see Alaska, I wanted to ever since I first watched Balto :)Also really like that Quote.

    1. Going to have to look up Balto now. I would definitely love to see Alaska.

  8. Brilliant post. Alaska sounds like a crazy beautiful place to visit and to live!!!

  9. Beautiful, just beautiful! The book sounds quite magical.

  10. Beautiful, simply beautiful! The book sounds magical.

  11. I have been interested in this book since I first read about it! Thanks for a chance to win!


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